The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Meet the Major: Architecture

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Architecture student working on a model. Text: Meet the Major: Architecture

Meet Emma, a junior Architecture major and Building and Construction Technology minor here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Life as an architecture student here is a riveting experience packed with model building, software design, artistic expression, critical thinking, and an interactive classroom environment that prove to be great preparation for one’s career. Here is a glimpse of what life is like as an architecture student here at UMass Amherst from Emma’s perspective.

Why did you choose to major in architecture?

I have known I wanted to major in architecture since eighth grade. I really liked all the different aspects of architecture that came together in the major such as design, construction, the blending of math and sciences, and the overall creativity of the major, which was very appealing to me and ultimately led to my desire to pursue it as a career path.

What's something that most people don't know or wrongly assume about the architecture major?

That it’s easy or that it is strictly artistic. There are a lot of technical aspects to the major such as required courses in physics and calculus. We do measurements and deal with geometry and trigonometry every single day on our various projects, which can be difficult but are essential skills needed to succeed in the major. While there is no denying the artistic side to architecture, which is also difficult to master, I believe that many are still unaware of just how technical this major and career path truly is.

What are your classes like?

They are typically very long. Unlike a standard lecture, we have to devote part of class time to working on our projects and connecting with professors to assist us in creating the best projects possible. The projects that we do are not only incredibly time-consuming but require a lot of hard work and concrete skills to successfully accomplish. The classes can range from studio arts, building and construction technology, arts, math, and sciences that all come together to form the major.

What's the most interesting class you've taken within your major and why?

Architecture and Race, one of our junior year writing courses. It is philosophical architecture tied into the concept of culture and race. This class really makes you think in ways that you might not have before, especially as an architecture major. A lot of architecture is hands-on and very tangible, but this class is more theory-based and ties in different aspects that you never thought would connect, but do, and impact the world in important ways. It is a riveting and eye-opening experience to step away from traditional architecture and view it in the context of race and culture.

Who has been your favorite professor and why?

Erika Zekos, an advisor as well as a lecturer for some of the studio classes in the architecture department. She is very helpful in the sense that she will make you think about the best possible ways to bring your concept into your project and to carry it out in such a way that makes you think more in-depth about how you execute your design. Overall, she is incredibly helpful and always wants the best for everyone in the department, which I admire greatly.

What are your career plans?

As an architecture major, it is extremely important to consider what your plans will be for graduate school in the future. My plan after I complete my undergraduate degree is to work a bit in the field and then pursue my master’s in architecture. To become a licensed architect, I need to further my education, accumulate a certain number of hours of professional experience, and pass the Architect Registration Examination. The process of becoming a licensed architect is no doubt a lengthy and grueling process, but I am excited to continue my journey and accomplish my dreams.

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